09/29/2010 11:43AM

Goldikova prepping for shot at history

Barbara D. Livingston
Goldikova's two BC Mile victories have come on Santa Anita's short, firm turf.

The Breeders’ Cup three-peat. It has never happened, and only once been attempted, but if things go as planned, Goldikova, the marvelous French miler, will try to make history this year. Goldikova starts Sunday at Longchamp in the Prix de la Foret, and any kind of decent performance will propel her to Churchill Downs and an attempt to win the Breeders’ Cup Mile for the third year in a row.

Only one horse has ever even had a shot at winning three BC races in a row, but Lure finished ninth in the 1994 Mile after triumphs the two previous years. Ouija Board racked up two wins and a second in three Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf races, but her wins weren’t consecutive, so she didn’t have a chance at three straight. Eight other two-time BC winners didn’t return to try for a third victory. Zenyatta, the other active two-time BC winner, could also three-peat in 2010. She’s expected to try to win the Classic for the second straight year after winning the 2008 Ladies Classic.

The Goldikova likely to show up in Kentucky will look very much like the Goldikova seen the last two years in California, trainer Freddie Head said Wednesday.

“She’s the same as last year,” said Head. “She’s put on a few kilos, maybe. She’s stronger at 5. She’s keen. She hasn’t lost any will, and she wants to run. I think she could be a little fitter this year than last year.”

So, Goldikova hasn’t changed, but the Breeders’ Cup venue has, and that could make Goldikova’s task more difficult. Goldikova is a Euro, but she is a Euro who loves the short-cut, very firm turf course at Santa Anita, site of the last two Breeders’ Cup Miles.

“She doesn’t like it when it’s too heavy,” Head said. “There’s no doubt that’s a little question mark. But what can we do? Just hope it doesn’t rain, right?”

It has been raining in Paris, and it could rain more before the Foret on Sunday. Goldikova, who has $4.8 million in career earnings, had won all three of her races this year until she ran into soft going in the Jacque le Marois on Aug. 15. There, she was beaten 2 1/2 lengths by Makfi, and if the going is soft or heavy on Sunday, another Goldikova loss would be less than shocking.

Another hurdle could stand between Goldikova and her third Mile win: A more potent European contingent this year. Makfi remains a possible Mile runner, but he could do no better than fifth last weekend in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in England. The winner of the QE II, Poet’s Voice, is being pointed to the Mile, while narrowly defeated Rip Van Winkle seems more likely to start in the Classic than the Mile, but he may be kept eligible to both races.

And do not rule out a Kentucky trip for Canford Cliffs, rated more highly than Goldikova in European classification systems on the strength of Group 1 victories in the Irish 2000 Guineas, the St. James Palace Stakes, and the Sussex Stakes, where he beat Rip Van Winkle. Canford Cliffs was a late withdrawal from the QE II because of a minor physical problem, but his connections hinted this week at a possible BC Mile start.

Gio Ponti, second in the 2009 BC Classic, would head the U.S. Mile contingent should his connections pursue a start in the race. Court Vision, fourth in the 2009 Mile, won the Woodbine Mile in his most recent start, and both he and the Woodbine Mile runner-up, The Usual Q.T., are being aimed at Churchill. Courageous Cat, second to Goldikova last year, is working steadily toward his first start since a ninth-place finish in the March 27 Dubai Duty Free. California-based Sidney’s Candy was brilliant in his turf debut, winning the Aug. 14 La Jolla Handicap, but has yet to face older horses of any sort – much less a world-class star like mighty Goldikova.